“Just pick one already?” Josh said. “The game’s on soon.” They walked back through the gallery yet again.
Cindy shrugged. “I like them both. What do you think?”
“I’ll go with whichever’s cheaper.”
Cindy rolled her eyes before cutting him a look. “Men,” she mumbled as they neared the painting she was leaning toward. A red barn set beneath a blue sky on a field of green. It conjured memories she thought lost to her, causing tears to well in her eyes. “This one.”
Josh flipped the paper slip up to check the price. He thought he may cry also.
Cyrus walked easy, a pretty young girl by his side. He talked, and she giggled.
Things were so different now. He could remember when there was nothing here save a small village and wilderness. Those were simpler times, but things change over hundreds of years. There was no stopping it.
His kind had worried at the beginning of this age, that The Hunt would be hampered with all the light, but the prey was attracted to light, like moths.
Slipping into an alley, he went for her neck. She moaned her ecstasy and pressed against him.
Doug looked askew at the steaming car planted in the shrub and shrugged. “Like I said officer, guy never slowed down. Couldn’t hear him over the music, some old rock I think, round and round something. He was laughing though. Probably high. Darn kids!”
The officer scribbled notes before looking back up at Doug. “He never tried to get off?”
“Doubt the thought ever crossed his mind. Was having a blast. Like at the fair or something. We lucky nobody got hurt.”
“True. That shrub is torn up pretty good though. Guess the hospital can tack it onto his bill.”
Scott strutted around the kitchen, head swinging to and fro, red curls swaying in time to the music. “Oh yeah, that’s it,” he declared, throwing out something between a Michael Jackson thrust and a Travolta finger pointing thing.
The toaster popped, and he set to slathering the perfectly browned bread with jelly found in the fridge. His backside kept the beat. Finished, he licked the knife clean and popped it back into the jar.
“Hey, that’s my jam!” came a distressed cry from the kitchen doorway.
Jack sipped his namesake, then turned up the cheap hotel glassware, draining the contents in a gulp before resting the glass atop his tupperware.
He chuckled at the little stack of plastic bowls. He had meal prepped for this trip with all the good intentions of a habitual dieter. Then the business went bad, and the diet with it. The healthy habits landed in the trash can, while he landed in all the local dives eating slop and drinking worse.
He poured another drink as he packed. There’s always next week, he thought. I’ll do better then.
Rose pressed in the last bit of stuffing, stitched the final seam, and began to focus on the details.
Cute buttons for eyes, black thread stitched just right for mouth and nose, and most important, the hair. Long, luxurious curls of black that tumbled from head to waste completed the work.
Everything was just right. Perfect.
She lay the doll atop a pillow and turned her full attention to the pin cushion. She selected a long silver prick with delicate fingers, and pressed it through the doll’s chest and into the pillow below.
Faster than ever, he ran. A thousand thousand scratches oozed blood, leaving his trail on the leaves.
The thumping rhythm of huge paws sounded from the deep wood. The beast followed fast an effortless track. It flew, thorns and limbs sliding harmless off its thick ebony coat. Drool overflowed the maw, leaving streamers behind.
David’s adrenaline spiked at the sound, and he pushed harder still, moving at inhuman speed.
The light looms ahead. One final stretch to the wall. They wait there, faces hopeful, before their eyes focus behind the runner and fill with terror.